Below is a letter from my grandfather to his parents, sister, brother, and sister-in-law during World War II. He served in the army infantry in Europe. His family called him Brother, so that is how he signs his letters. I feel privileged to have been able to read so many of his letters home from the war. He did make it home from this war, wounded but alive. So many did not.
2 Oct – ‘44
Dear Folks –
I’m sorry it’s been so long since you have heard from me, but we have been awfully busy – have seen quite a bit of France and it is very pretty. The mountains are as pretty as those back in N.C.; but, Oh! how I’d like to be seeing those in N.C. instead of Europe.
Don’t you folks worry about me if there is no mail for some time because there will be very little time to write. When I have time, I’ll write as often as possible.
Excuse this paper it’s the only paper that I have.
The weather here is not so good – cold and raining – we stay wet quite a bit of the time which makes it worse.
Guess you folks are plenty busy back there with the harvesting. Hope you are getting along OK with it. Maybe I’ll be back to help you dry next year this time.
Well it’s getting dark so I’ll close – will write more when I have time – please don’t worry about me when you don’t hear from me very often as I’m too busy to do much of that just now.
I’ve had no mail from anyone since the last of July so keep on writing to me it’ll be welcome when it does get here.
Hope this finds you in the best of health and happiness – I’m OK – getting something to eat anyway.
Love to all-
Sister, Walter, and Jane
I am continuing the theme of family this Sunday (late as it is) and I am going to start with my maternal grandparents (and specifically, my grandfather).
These were the grandparents I grew up with. They lived close to us and we visited with them often, went to church together, spent holidays together—all in our small town. They usually kept us after school, and during the summer at their beach cottage, when my mother worked.
My grandfather’s name was Hythe Addison Reid. He was named after both his grandfathers, but the grandfather whose name was not picked as the first moniker gave him the nickname “Pete” which stuck with him all his life. He grew up within walking distance of that grandfather and a short wagon ride from his other grandfather, on a farm in Nixonton (near Elizabeth City), NC. Everyone in his family lived on a farm, and all his ancestors had been farming in the area since the late 1600s.
Dado, as we called him, was a little larger-than-life. He was opinionated and stubborn, kind and fun and he loved a good debate (as long as he won!). He always had a story to tell—of his golf game, of friends from long ago or of those he saw yesterday, of his family. He was a farmer and a philosopher (actually, I don’t think you can be a farmer without being a bit of a philosopher), and he had some radical ideas. He inspired my interest in agriculture, honed my love of the beach, and shaped my liberal political leanings.
These “family moments”, for me, are becoming a time for me to reflect and appreciate the influence my family has had on me.